Stay Safe and Protect yourself from Mosquito-Borne Illnesses
Explore our guide on safeguarding yourself from mosquito-borne viruses this summer. Learn how to prevent these illnesses with measures like removing standing water, wearing protective clothing, and using EPA-approved repellents.
What is a Mosquito?
Mosquitoes are common, flying insects that live in most parts of the world. Over 3,700 types of mosquitoes can be found worldwide. Some mosquitoes can be vectors. A vector is an animal, insect, or tick that spreads pathogens (germs) to people and animals. The germs (viruses and parasites) that mosquitoes spread can make you sick.
What is Mosquito-borne diseases?
Mosquito-borne diseases are those spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria.
What are the symptoms of Mosquito-borne disease?
Although people may not become sick after a bite from an infected mosquito, some people have a mild, short-term illness or (rarely) severe or long-term illness. Severe cases of mosquito-borne diseases can cause death.
What to do if you are bitten by an infected Mosquito?
If you suspect a mosquito bite is infected, you'll want to see a healthcare provider for treatment. Before you go, you can clean the area with soap and water.
How can I prevent getting bitten by an infected Mosquito?
- Many mosquitos that transmit viruses bite between dawn and dusk. It is possible for mosquitos who bite in the daytime to also transmit the virus. To the extent possible, stay indoors at dusk and at dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes when outdoors.
- Spray insect repellent with the active ingredients of DEET or Picaridin (both provide longer-lasting protection than others) on exposed skin and clothing when outdoors, following product directions; and
- Use screens on open windows and repair any holes.
How can I eliminate mosquito breeding sites?
- Reduce breeding mosquitoes in your yard and in your neighborhood by eliminating standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
- Remove discarded automobile tires and put drainage holes in playground tires.
- Remove or turn over buckets and other containers that can collect rainwater.
- Turn over children's wading pools, wheelbarrows, canoes, and garbage can lid.
- Clean roof gutters and downspout screens regularly.
- Flush bird baths and potted plant drainage trays twice weekly.
- Fix dripping outdoor water faucets and eliminate puddles under air conditioners.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools; and
- Adjust tarps over pools, boats, etc. so that rainwater will not collect.
How is Mosquito-borne disease transmitted?
Mosquito-borne diseases are those spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Control mosquitoes indoors
- Keep windows and doors shut and use air conditioning if possible.
- Use, install, or repair window and door screens.
- Once a week, empty or throw out any items that hold water like vases and flowerpot saucers.
- Use an indoor insect fogger or indoor insect spray to kill mosquitoes and treat areas where they rest.
Control mosquitoes outdoors
- Empty or throw out any items that hold water like vases and flowerpot saucers.
- Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, rain barrels, etc.)
- For containers without lids, use mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
- Use an outdoor insect spray in dark humid areas where mosquitoes rest, like under patio furniture or in the carpet or garage. Always follow label instructions.
- If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover vent or plumbing pipe openings using mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
Protect babies and children by:
- Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Instead dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children younger than 3 years old.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.
- Adults: spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.